Pondering the Type Sampler

Between the studio tour weekends in late September, I set type in a fairly random fashion on a large poster of types sampled from the drawers in the studio. I got this far with it [click to make larger]:

You may even be able to see red correction marks indicating just some of the many sins contained within. However, it is dramatic, measuring approx. 16 x 22 in. That, for a press that has absolutely no wood type and just marginal amounts of mid-range lead type in large sizes. It works on the premise that many small letters can conspire to make a larger statement. It also seems to embody my own rather scattered focus and schedule.

Now, with Christmas nearly upon us, and feeling an urgent need to produce some kind of seasonal greeting on the press,  so I have to decide: a) dis the type and keep the proof as a plan for a future effort; b) break up the type onto composing trays and reassemble it on the press later; or c) clean up the obvious errors, make some quick fixes and print off 50 or a 100, then get down to Christmas obligations. What to do, what to do….

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6 Comments on “Pondering the Type Sampler”


  1. […] had done the poster-sized sampler last year and learned a few lessons about setting up type specimens, and a few incongruities in the […]


  2. what a beautiful specimen sheet this is! your shop and work are very inspiring Stephen. I’ve had a great time reading some of your posts. I’ve reached out to Richard tonight, telling him a bit about the Vancouver Letterpress League group I founded with my buddy Sam in Oct 2011. We have lots to learn, and I’m hoping to open up a dialog with a number of members from your group. An Ontario/BC exchange could be lots of fun. I’m from Ottawa myself and was amazed at how much you guys have accomplished in a few years. You guys can contact me directly here, let’s get this ball rolling!

    Cheers! Yvon

    NOTE: you can read a bit more about my Fox & Found Press in my LinkedIn profile, as I struggle to get a website done and up!

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Yvon A. Lantaigne, proprietor

    Fox & Found Press
    L E A D I S N O T D E A D

    Vancouver, BC CANADA
    604.327.9912 tel 604.760.1709 cel
    yvon@foxfoundpress.com

    LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/madillo
    Facebook http://www.facebook.com/FoxAndFoundPress
    Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/fox-and-found

    • Larry Says:

      Thanks Yvon,

      You’re confusing me with a prolific printer in Orleans, Steve Quick of Weathervane Press, without doubt the most active press in the Ottawa Press Gang. I’m Larry Thompson, Greyweathers Press. Pleased to make your acquaintance! The OPG will soon have its own blog and web presence. If you want to connect solidly with the OPG, I recommend contacting Grant Wilkins (The Grunge Press) who, in handling the OPG email list, is the sole custodian of any kind of organization in the group. I will email you with his address.


      • Apologies all around Larry, I must have had too many browser windows open at once. But the specimen shown above is yours though, yes? I hope to kick start my woodtype specimen sheet project soon, need to find some avid volunteers looking for access to the shop in return.
        Sounds like both our groups are getting up to speed at about the same time, as far as getting online. Your group definitely has more committed and well equipped presses than we do. Of our 50 members, 22 own presses but only 7 or 8 of us are active and producing, but only 1, Jarrett Morrison of the Bowler Press is actively engaged in fine printed books, and he does lovely stuff.
        Yes, we have a good dozen fine presses in BC, but their owners seem to live at more rarified air levels than us…they’re friendly enough while one is negotiating to purchase one of their books but otherwise, I think they see the new printers as either a threat or perhaps an abomination?
        The movement in new small presses on the West Coast is less dedicated to finely printed books, rather I think most new printers view letterpress as a new and different art form, less of an old craft. I guess I find myself somewhere in between with my love of lead and all things handset.
        I will definitely contact Grant, thanks for passing on his contact. To the pleasure of more communications between our groups.

        All the best, Yvon

      • Larry Says:

        Yes, Yvon, that is my specimen sheet, and the project was, in part, inspired by an Ottawa Press Gang collaborative idea to create a collection of specimens from each of the more active presses. I don’t have the stats on the Ottawa group, but from knowledge gleaned casually I’d say there are about a dozen members with presses and perhaps another dozen or so who are enthusiasts who borrow the facilities of others. This forms the core group. So at 22 printing presses, Vancouver certainly has the basis for momentum!

        The scene you describe in BC is the same here in Ontario, with enthusiasts – many of them young – coming into the scene. Some are like me, bibliophiles, who are drawn to the art of the book – content, page and cover. Others are designers, and their interest in letterpress lies in its graphic and typographic possibilities. That’s exciting for me, because while I’m primarily a “books & blocks” printer, every enthusiast coming into letterpress now at least understands the attraction of what I do and may one day be in a position to buy my books. They are the future, and the future looks bright.


      • A very healthy and positive outlook you’ve got there regarding your possible new clientele Larry! I wish you all the best with it.

        We are also discussing a few collaborative projects amongst our group, and the concept of allying non-press owners with press owners, although only a handful of us are serious about type collections, lead or wood. Many of the 22 are so new to letterpress that they can only barely consider a Boxcar base on top of their student loan payments. I deplore the fact that the newcomers don’t dig deeper for info when they start out, lord knows, there’s so many good sources online now. It’s as if Harold of Boxcar created the concept of mounting a relief surface to a sturdy base right out of thin air in the last 3 or 4 years, and that the only paper one can put into a letterpress is Crane’s Lettra (clever spin on the name association on Neenah’s part there!).

        Hopefully a comprehensive website available to the public at large with help this lack of education vis a vis letterpress in general, but we have to build it first, which we’re just starting out on.

        Richard offered to send me a Gazette, so I assume this will be a printed piece? I look forward to it. Do you know if PDFs exist of previous issues? It would be great to see the progression of your efforts over the past years, so that we can hopefully learn from your experience. Are they very large? Or easy enough to scan?

        OK Larry, I’ll leave you on this, got get prepared for the week, we had our first “Family Day” provincial holiday today, I think Ontario and other provinces hold this next Monday.

        All the best,
        Yvon


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